Colletet, William

, one of the members of the French academy, was born at Paris in 1598, and died in the same city February 10, 1659, aged sixty-one, leaving scarcely enough to bury him. Cardinal Richelieu appointed him one of the five authors whom he selected to write for the theatre. Colletet alone composed “Cyminde,” and had a part in the two comedies, the “Blindman of Smyrna,” and the “Tuilleries.Reading the monologue in this latter piece to the cardinal, he was so struck with six bad lines in it, that he made him a present of 6uO livres; saying at the same time, that this was only for the six verses, which he found so beautiful, that the king was not rich enough to recompense him for the rest. However, to shew his right as a patron, and at the same time his judgment as a connoisseur, he insisted on the alteration of one word for another. Colletet refused to comply with his criticism; and, not content with defending his verse to the cardinal’s face, on returning home he wrote to him on the subject. The cardinal had just read his letter, when some courtiers came to compliment him on the success of the king’s arms, adding, that nothing could withstand his eminence!—“You are much mistaken,” answered he smiling; “for even at Paris I meet with persons who withstand me.” They asked who these insolent persons could be? “It is Colletet,” replied he; “for, after having contended with me yesterday about a word, he will not yet submit, as you may see here by this long letter he has been writing to me.” This obstinacy, however, did not so far irritate the minister as to deprive the poet of his patronage. Colletet had also other benefactors. Harlay, archbishop of Paris, gave him a handsome reward | for his hymn on the immaculate conception; by sending him an Apollo of solid silver. Colletet took for his second wife, Claudine his maid servant; and, in order to justify his choice, published occasionally pieces of poetry in her name; but, this little artifice being presently discovered, both the supposititious Sappho, and the inspirer of her lays, became the objects of continual satire. This marriage, in addition to two subsequent ones, to the losses he suffered in the civil wars, and to his turn for dissipation, reduced him to the extreme of poverty. His works appeared in 1653, in 12mo. 1

1 Moreri, Baillet Jugemens, —Dict. Hist.